There are risks associated with all surgery and you should be aware of these risks. Remember that it is your choose whether or not to proceed with surgery and you should consider the risks as well as the benefits.
Some of the potential problems associated with foot surgery are listed below. Whilst these are risks, they are relatively uncommon. Many can be treated and corrected without permanent disability or pain. These risks can be reduced considerably if you follow the instructions you are given following your surgery. An estimation of the incidence of these complications has been provided where possible. This risk will vary depending on your general health and the nature of your problem.
- Post operative pain and swelling. This will occur in the initial period after surgery but can be kept to a minimum. It will be worste the first night and then start to ease over the next few days. It is difficult to predict how painful it will be as this varies between patients.
- Haematoma (less than 1%) – a build up of blood in the tissues around the operation site.
- Infection (less than 5%). This is usually superficial and treated with antibiotics. Your podiatrist will liaise with your doctor if this is necessary. Prompt treatment will avoid infection of the underlying bone, which may affect the outcome of the surgery.
- Reaction to the pain killers (10-20%). Pain killers can upset your stomach or make you feel sick.
- Delayed healing of the skin or bone (less than 5%)
- Prolonged swelling (5-10%). This usually settles after 6-12 months. In a few cases, swelling may be present long term but is usually painless.
- Thick or sensitive scarring (less than 5%)
- Loss of sensation (less than 5%). This is usually temporary and rarely permanent.
- Damage to the blood supply to the area (less than 1%).
- Blood clotting (thrombosis) in the deep veins of the leg (0.5%). This condition can result in a small piece of clot dislodging (embolism) and going to the lung (pulmonary embolism). Whilst this is rare, it is a potentially life threatening condition.
- Loosening or movement of the screws or wires used to fix bone. If wires or screws are necessary for your operation, they are not routinely removed unless they cause a problem. On average, 10-15% of patients have these removed.
- Recurrence of deformity. Whilst every effort is taken to ensure a long term successful result, this cannot be guaranteed. There is always a possibility of the problem returning.
- Complex regional pain syndrome is a rare complication (less than 0.1%) that can occur following any surgery of the extremities, resulting in severe pain to the area. Specific medical treatment / referral is often necessary to resolve the problem. However, precise diagnosis is difficult and a small number of affected patients are left with disabling long term pain.
- Each operation has specific risks. These need to be considered in addition to the general risks.
Although all these complications are possible they are infrequent. Please be sure to discuss any areas of concern with your podiatrist as well as specific complications related to the procedure you may undergo.